Jerry Brown’s Budget Cuts Encourage Illiteracy

"I promise to keep kids ignorant and illiterate, so long as I am in office ..."

I wasn’t going to blog today, but then I saw this in the news: “California Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2011–2012 eliminates state funding for public libraries, a loss of $30.4 million.” If this proposed budget isn’t a sign of increased ignorance and stupidity in our nation, I don’t know what is.

I’ve decided to reprint the formal response of Paymaneh Maghsoudi, California Library Association president and director of the Whittier Public Library. I don’t live in California. I can’t really do much of anything about Governor Jerry Brown’s budget … but I can at least spread awareness of what’s happening to our libraries. And by spreading awareness, maybe I’ll inspire some CA folk to fight a good fight against American bureaucratic idiocy.

For Immediate Release
Tue, 01/11/2011 – 4:00pm

Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2011-2012 budget proposes eliminating $30.4 million in state funds for the Public Library Foundation, Transaction Based Reimbursement, and the California Library Literacy and English Acquisition Service. These cuts eliminate all state funding for California public libraries. Paymaneh Maghsoudi, California Library Association (CLA) President and Library Director of the Whittier Public Library, released the following statement regarding the proposed reduction of funding for California’s public libraries.

“The revelation yesterday that Governor Brown is proposing to eliminate all $30 million in state funding for three of California’s most valuable public library programs—the Public Library Foundation, Transaction Based Reimbursement, and the California Library Literacy program, is both disastrous and disheartening. Since the early 2000’s, public libraries have been one of the hardest hit segments of local government, with deep reductions totaling more than 75% made to these programs by the previous two Governors combined. We understand fully California’s dire Budget situation and the challenges of the recessionary economy, but the public libraries have done more than their share to assist with the Budget deficit over the years by absorbing painful cuts. The time has come to stop the bleeding and CLA respectfully asks the members of the legislature to oppose these proposed cuts to our valuable programs.

“The proposed cuts unveiled by the Governor will not only jeopardize library hours, staff positions, and the availability of books and materials, they will also potentially dismantle the cooperative system of borrowing and loaning books, known as Transaction Based Reimbursement (TBR), that has existed statewide for over three decades. Incidentally, a cut of this magnitude to the TBR could make the state ineligible for the federal match that is a part of this program.

“Lastly, in 2007 alone, more than 20,000 adult learners participated in the state literacy program, benefitting native English speaking adults who have never learned to read, or the K-12 schooling system has failed them. The elimination of the state funding for this program would be truly heartbreaking for individuals and families who desperately need this assistance.

“While state funding for libraries has decreased, door counts continue to rise at an amazing rate for most libraries and library branches, and staffs are stretched to capacity. In this difficult economy, libraries are a safety net for many people who have lost their home or jobs and are using their local library to write resumes, attend workshops on credit repair, and utilize free access to high speed Internet to look for work or do research. Public libraries assist our K-12 school children with the necessary tools to help expand their education, such as literacy programs, Homework Help centers, books for school assignments, etc. The timing couldn’t be worse for the Governor’s proposed $30 million cut to public libraries.”

The California Library Association was established in 1895 and currently has 3,000 members consisting of librarians, library employees, library students, friends groups and trustees, businesses, institutions, and members of the general public.

The State’s Education Code notes that there should be “permanent, stable, and predictable financing for public libraries of the state through a combination of state and local revenues.” The Code further reveals, “…the public library is a supplement to the formal system of free public education, and a source of information and inspiration to persons of all ages, cultural backgrounds, and economic statuses, and a resource for continuing education and reeducation beyond the years of formal education, and as such deserves adequate financial support from government at all levels.”

(If you have anything you’d like to say to Governor Jerry Brown, feel free to stop by his website: http://gov.ca.gov/m_contact.php.)

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